Fine language. You’ve never done this before?
Your lucky day. How does it feel?
Wet. Warm. Hot.
Keep it up for me!
Not going anywhere! Holy shit!
How can you talk with your mouth full?
You want me to stop?
No! No! No! Keep it up! Yes, keep it up!
No, you are going to have to keep it up for what’s coming next.
Don’t ask. Just…feel while I take it my hand and drive it home. Here it goes. One…two…and…we are—
Home? Oh my god!
—Goddamn it, I knew it!
Damn, you are a horse! I love it. I love you.
Oh yes, yes, I love you, I love it, I love you.
Me or it?
You. It. The same thing. I don’t care.
No way, no way, no way! Don’t stop!
I can’t. Can’t stop now. Holy hell, I am going to explode. I’m going to explode…going to explode.
Let’s explode together. Come with me! Don’t hold back, don’t you hold back on me, don’t you dare hold back on me!
Oh, baby, give it to me!
Holy shit, give it to me!
I’m giving it! Take it all!
Give it to me. Like that, like that!
I’ll be damned.
Yeah, baby, yeahssh!
Yes. It’s great. Fantastic. I can’t stop. Don’t stop.
Mh-hmm! Not now!
You too. You are coming, baby, you’re coming?
Yeah, yes, don’t stop!
I am going to…blow, paassss out. My head is about to explode.
Let it explode!
Shit, I’m there, I’m there! Nowwww! Yes, yesss. Oh my god, yessss!
You are great.
Love you, I love you, Doctor!
My eyes flew open. I jerked awake so fast and nearly toppled off the bed. Without missing a beat, I plunked my naked arse down to the edge of the bed.
I damned Prisca Braithwaite to hell when I looked down at myself. A blob of white cream streamed steadily down my thigh.
What the hell!
I groaned, swore in a single four-letter word so dirty it would require soap to wash out my mouth and buried my head in my palms. Sweat fell off my brow in rivulets. My body was damp and the bedspread was soaked with perspiration. The dampness was cool on my skin but I was raging hot inside.
It was morning, I noticed, as the dream began to fade. I was happy it was just a dream. By the same token, my body was frustrated it had just been a dream. Awakening to tumescent body parts wasn’t novel, but having wet dreams in which a counselling case played the lead female role was new.
I was grateful it wasn’t a morning I had to wake up beside Jemima. She could never have known she wasn’t the responsible for my sudden rush of lust.
Lust was what it was. Twisted, frustrated, meaningless lust. I had a serious case of Prisca Braithwaite raging inside me.
This is not good! Not good at all! No frigging way!
I surged to my feet and beads of perspiration dripped off points I wished I didn’t notice, points that had hardened and swelled in sleep dreaming of Prisca and the sinful ecstasy she offered and I took. She certainly hadn’t held a gun to my head in my dream and I had taken and taken. If it had been real…
Hold the thought! What if it had been real? What would I have done? Would I have scrapped my principles and scruples, given in and dived headlong into the vortex of sensations still raging through my body?
The buzzing phone stopped me from finding out. It lay on Minding the Mind, the book I faintly remembered reading last night. When I snatched up the phone, it stopped vibrating. The digital display showed 7.18. I keyed in my unlock code and the screensaver was replaced with a notice at the bottom of the LCD—12 Missed Calls. They all came from the same number, one unlisted in my phone memory.
There was no need to call back, for the phone buzzed again. I depressed the yes button and held the gadget against my ear.
“Doctor!” The woman’s voice spoke before I said hello and good morning. Something close to a sob was audible in the voice.
“Who is this?” My tone reacted to being woken up early in the morning by an unknown caller.
Great of her to call out of the blue, first thing on a morning when I’d just woken from a wet dream in which she was the only lead star. The intoxication of minutes ago threatened to surge higher. I found solace in indignation to tamp it down.
“How did you get this number?” I encouraged office visits as much as possible but my phone number wasn’t public knowledge to at least ninety percent of my students. The lucky ten per cent were carefully selected. Prisca wasn’t in that group.
“I can’t take this anymore!” she said abruptly, not answering the question.
“It is driving me insane. Everything is driving me insane.” She was shrieking and sobbing at once. “I just can’t go on. Would it be so terrible…if…”
I interrupted sharply, “Listen, Prisca, if you thought something was wrong enough for you to wake me up early in the morning with a phone number I never gave you, the least you could do is calm down and tell me what’s wrong.”
She said nothing, sobbed some more instead.
“I am hopeless. I have been deceiving myself thinking this could work, thinking I could cure myself. The thing is I can’t, and there is no use pretending.”
“So you woke up crying?” My annoyance, nothing compared against the agony of sublimation, disappeared. Channelling desires into positive activities was fine in words. In practice, it was as hellish as the agony of withdrawal every junkie felt when they went off heroin cold turkey. The only difference was a junkie could shoot up and start afresh. Prisca on the other hand would jump into the nearest bed, get a quick toss and get out with her self esteem at an all-time low.
“I didn’t sleep at all! I spent the entire night thinking what a useless, pathetic thing I am.” Her voice rose as the shriek returned. “I’m lost cause.”
“Nobody is lost cause, Prisca.”
“I am!” she sobbed into my ear. “And everyone knows it.”
“Your mother doesn’t think you are lost cause, at least, does she?”
“My mother?” That made her pause one second.
“She can’t insist on you getting help if she thought you couldn’t get it.”
The pause lengthened.
“Who do you think everyone is, Prisca? No one. Everyone is no one.” I had never said anything sager. “But your mother is someone. Her opinion and those of people close to you are what should count.”
“Simply because she’s my mother? That doesn’t mean she knows what’s best for me.”
“She did give birth to you,” I reminded her sarcastically.
“Which simply means she knows how to have sex or she got lucky. She has no idea how I’m feeling right now.”
Withdrawal was driving her up the wall, and she was in turn driving me insane. I was shocked at this side of Prisca.
I took a moment’s pause, which forced her to pause too. I counted to ten to make sure the last of her steam had hissed off, then said, “So, how are you feeling right now?”
“Stupid, crazy, desperate, hopeless, doomed.” The adjectives ran on and I stopped counting. “I feel like a fire is raging through me and I have to do something, anything to quench it.”
“Prisca, you know you can’t go there,” I warned. “That is a road you are struggling so hard to abandon. Go down that road and all the progress you’ve made over the past few weeks will be forgotten. If you find someone, we both know it will last only three minutes. You want to give up everything for only three minutes of release?”
“Daniel is in my face, every moment. And Israel, Haruna, name them…all of them. I’m running away from all of them. I’m fighting, but it’s not working. Everyone knows it’s not.”
“Everybody!” she retorted. “I see it in their eyes when they look at me. In class at school, in restaurants, at the swimming pool. Everywhere I go, they just stare. Inside they are giggling and pointing at me and even probably betting how much longer I can go before I end up sixty-nining with the next thing in boxers or even worse.”
“What is worse?”
“Ending up on my knees in front of my new counsellor and eating his zip fastener with my teeth.”
What? The declaration was swift and unexpected. My body jumped and quivered in shock, which lasted all of ten seconds before morphing into anticipation.
“That’s ridiculous,” I said, uncertain. “It’s just your mind projecting itself onto people around you.”
“It wasn’t my mind when she walked up to me in front of my faculty and told me never to focus on any part of your body other than what you said!”
“Who?” The face of one culprit formed in my mind. I prayed to be proved wrong.
“Some girl who wanted to get back at me because her boyfriend even looked at me.”
I breathed easier. The image my mind had dredged up dissolved. For a moment, I’d thought Jemima had cornered Prisca. There was no telling the nasty things a woman could say to a possible rival. The game of love was bloody business.
“So?” I said the word and didn’t know why.
“So, what, doctor?” Even Prisca didn’t get the new drift.
“Are you going to prove them right? It’s clear everybody hopes you will fail. They are all waiting to see you back to square one—even zero, if possible. the question is, are you going to prove them right?”
“I don’t want to!” The sob returned.
“Then don’t!” I snapped. The ferocity of my command surprised her, because it surprised even me. “Withdrawal is never easy. I never promised it wouldn’t be difficult. The question you have to ask yourself is, how many three-minutes will you spend doing sixty-nine and eating zip fasteners to make you happy?”
Prisca groaned loud and long. I could have sworn she was tearing out her hair in frustration. It was a strange thought. The Prisca I knew, the old Prisca would unabashedly be splaying her fingers over the dell of her navel, then pushing them down the slope of her belly until they delved between her thighs, then she would be…
I cursed and dragged my thoughts to a screeching stop. The phone was still against my ear but it was silent.
“Prisca, are you there?”
“No, they won’t make me happy,” she said, her voice faint. “I want it to stop.”
“Only you can stop it. You are already on that road. Don’t get off it.”
“I need help,” she begged. “I can’t do it alone.”
“That’s why I am here, Prisca. That’s why I’m here. Did you touch yourself?” The question flew out of my mouth before I thought better. It didn’t matter. Prisca’s case and my involvement in it wasn’t all sweetness and light. There was no holiness and purity about her desires and the frustration they created in hapless bystanders like me. There was no point acting sanctimonious.
Prisca kept silent and my heart sank.
“Did you?” I pressed on.
“You didn’t answer right away. Are you sure you are not lying to me?”
“I’m not. I just realised, the moment you asked whether I touched myself, that that was what I was on the verge of doing. But I managed to stop myself.” She exhaled with relief. “I almost feel good about it.”
A sound. Did she smile? Was that a chuckle? Still despondent, she said, “What do I do?”
“First of all, get out of bed, if you are still in it. Put on some Afro juju CD. Leave it to play in the background and fill you with good thoughts. Go straight into your bathroom and take a cold shower. Time yourself. Don’t spend more than five minutes in there. Once you are out, go through everything you normally do in the mornings, and get out of the house as soon as possible. Carry those thoughts with you as long as you can. Keep them running, and don’t mind what people say or do. Remain positive.”
“How would you know if I don’t?”
“When you walk into my office, I can tell.”
“Thank you, doctor.” She actually chuckled. “I am sorry to have woken you so early. I know you weren’t expecting my call.”
“Frankly, I wasn’t,” I had to admit.
“Again I apologise.”
“I’d feel better if you got through this stage.”
“I’ll try, doctor. Thank you for everything.”
She disconnected with a click. The click was louder in my head. My body was alive with a force all its own. It hummed and quivered and shuddered, straining for release, the release, that release which drove it berserk. Any release was welcome.
At the moment, it fought for only one that came with the vision of red apples. A package of chocolate skin I yearned to touch. Eyes that showed equal mix of seduction and innocence. Sensual lips whose fullness invited plunder. Slender neck arched upward in wordless surrender to my marauding lips. Throaty moans that echoed endlessly in my ears as the warm skin of another pressed against me and long legs cradled my hips.
The skin, the eyes, the neck, the voice, the hips, none belonged to the woman I was hoping one day to spend the rest of my life with. In my head, Jemima was fighting a losing battle stacking up against Prisca. Our weekends were never long enough to play out the depths of the lust that steadily consumed me. In my head, I was already unfaithful many times over. Jemima could never know the source of that extra zeal, that blinding fever that came rushing to the fore when our bodies united, the frenzy that made me fear I’d hurt her. The hurt would be physical, the emotional one was graver. Mental infidelity made express grounds for a speedy breakup.
I followed the advice I had dished out to Prisca. In the bathroom, my mind ran through the entire sequence, snagging at the point where she was kneeling before the counsellor and eating his zip fastener. The ordinary words took on whole new meanings that sent my hormones into a fever.
The cold shower should work for Prisca Braithwaite. Because it was ineffectual for Stanley Mala, Ph.D.
It hadn’t worked for Abdel Gilpin, Ph.D.
The useless shower failed me.